Tenants hold the following responsibilities:
- Pay rent and utilities according to rental agreement.
- Maintain the premises in sanitary condition.
- Pay for fumigation of infestations caused by the tenant (eg: fleas from a cat).
- Properly use and maintain appliances provided by the landlord.
- Do not cause intentional or careless damage to the dwelling.
- Replace batteries in smoke detectors.
- Upon moving out, restore the premises to the same condition as when the tenant moved in, aside from normal wear and tear.
In turn, landlords have the following responsibilities:
- Maintain and repair the premises to comply with housing codes and regulations.
- Provide adequate locks and keys.
- Maintain electrical, plumbing, heating, and other appliances in good working order.
- Keep the premises in reasonably weather-tight condition.
- Control infestations by insects, rodents, and other pests before the tenant moves in, and in residences with the exception of single family dwellings through tenancy.
- In apartments, studios, or other dwellings excluding houses, provide garbage cans and arrange for garbage removal.
- Provide smoke detectors and ensure they work properly when a new tenant moves in.
- A landlord is not responsible for the cost of damages caused by the tenant.
Landlords Access to Rental Property
The landlord must give the tenant at least two days notice of intent to enter the property at reasonable times. The law states, however, that tenants must not unreasonably refuse to allow the landlord to enter the rental when the landlord has given at least one days notice of intent to enter at a specified time to show the dwelling to prospective or actual buyers or tenants. Tenants also must not unreasonably refuse the landlord access to repair, improve, or service the dwelling. In case of emergency, the landlord can enter without notice. If you feel your landlord is violating your rights, you can speak to them in person regarding your concerns, or send them written notice.
When something needs to be repaired the first step is to provide written notice to the landlord. The notice should include the address of the rental and a description of the problem. If possible, its a good idea to deliver the notice personally. The allowable waiting times for a repair are:
- 24 hours for no hot or cold water, heat, or electricity, or for a condition that it imminently hazardous to life.
- 72 hours for repair of refrigerator, range, and oven, or a major plumbing fixture supplied by the landlord.
- 10 days for all other repairs
If repairs are not started within the allowable time and you are paid up in rent and utilities you may exercise the following options:
- Give written notice and move out. You are entitled to a prorated refund of rent and a refund of your deposit that you would normally receive.
- Litigation or arbitration. You can hire an attorney and go to court. If the landlord agrees the dispute can be decided by an arbitration service, which is usually less costly and quicker than going to court.
- Hire someone to make the repairs. In many cases the tenant can have the work done and deduct the cost from the rent. You must submit an estimate to your the landlord first. The total cost deducted cannot exceed one months rent.
Despite what you may hear from trusted and well-meaning advisors, you may not withhold your rent payments until the landlord makes repairs.
- Legal Reference Sheet
- Tacoma Human Rights and Human Services Department
- Fair Housing Center of South Puget Sound
- City of Tacoma - Fair Housing
- Fair Housing Center of Washington
- Pierce County Community Action Program
- Neighborhood and Community Services - Landlord-Tenant Program
- Northwest Justice Project CLEAR - Coordinated Legal Education Advice and Referral Service
- Tenants Union